Many churches have a ‘prayer meeting’ on Wednesday nights. But often times it isn’t a meeting of people praying. It used to be. But over the years, many of these prayer meetings have become a Bible study with a time for prayer requests. Most, if not all churches have prayer on Sunday morning. But I have found that prayer is almost used as a bumper or transition as the worship team shuffles off the stage, or the ushers get into place. Some churches spend more time sharing announcements than they do in prayer during a worship service.
I do not consider myself a great prayer warrior, though I do tend to think more deeply about prayer the older I get. Again, I am no expert on prayer, but here are 5 practical things to consider when cultivating your prayer life.
When Is The Best Time To Pray? There is no magic time slot for prayer. God is no more attentive to an early morning prayer than He is to a lunch time prayer. We are encouraged to always be in a spirit of prayer. So whatever time of day work best for you to be in the right frame of mind to talk specifically with God is the right time to pray. There is definitely no wrong time to pray. You should talk with God as often as you need to… and as often as you want to.
Should I Pray Out Loud? God isn’t deaf. You don’t have to shout your prayers to God. Neither is He nervous. He gave you your voice. I’m sure He would like to hear it lift up prayers. We are encouraged to lift up our voices in praise. Praise should be a part of our prayers. So I think there are times when we should pray audibly. And there are probably times when we should pray silently. The enemy cannot hear your silent prayers. So maybe it is good for him to hear your lips calling out to God and putting him on notice.
Do I Need To Kneel To Pray? Prayer is a very spiritual exercise. It is your heart communing with God’s heart. But just because prayer is spiritual does not mean that your physical body is disconnected from it. In the Bible we find people praying while lifting their hands, folding their hands, bowing their head, looking to the sky, standing, kneeling, stretched out on the ground, weeping, smiling, walking, standing still, pouring ashes on themselves, after washing themselves, aloud with others, silently by themselves. You get the idea? The spiritual vibrancy of prayer should inspire your body to enter into the experience, though that may look differently at different times.
What Should I Pray For? You can ask God for anything, and He may or may not give you what you want. But if you pray for those thing God wants you to have, you will receive them. To reach this level means your prayer life needs to be more than a Christmas list. If your child only comes to you to ask you for stuff, how will that make you feel? You want a relationship with her/him. The same is true with God. Pray that God’s will would be accomplished in your life.
What Is The Key To Prayer? – Everyone wants God to hear and answer their prayers. But sometimes we kind of wing it. People pray in a moment for a moment. God may and often does answer those prayers, but your prayer life should not be a list of 9-1-1 calls to Heaven. Be purposeful in your prayer life. Here are three keys to successful prayer…
· Pray often. The Bible says that we have not because we ask not. It encourages us to ask and keep on asking. Most people have a shallow prayer life because they don’t pray. So… pray, and pray often.
· Pray according to God’s will. God wants to transform you and bless you. But if you only seek the blessings without the transformation, it will skew the relationship. Pray that God will make Himself known to you. Find out what He wants you to have, and pray for that.
· When you pray, pray to God. He won’t answer prayers you pray to a tree, or the sun, or your grandma, or a saint, or Mary the mother of Jesus. Pray to God.
· Pray in faith. Do not doubt. The Bible tells us that our prayers aren’t answered sometimes because we don’t actually believe what we are asking. Prayer is not a wish. Prayer is to be an act of faith where you trust God enough to approach Him about an issue in your life. He looks for faith in your prayers more than any other element.
· Make sure your heart is clear. Don’t expect to live a life of sin and have God respond to your prayers. He will answer the sinners prayer for forgiveness and restoration. But if you have idols in your life, that will get in the way of your prayers.
“Ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)
“You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.” (James 4:2-3)
Today know that God hears honest prayers lifted up in faith from sincere hearts.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.